Progressive Breakfast for July 17

Morning Message

Will the Foreign-Policy Elite Learn From Trump?

Is Donald Trump a grotesque aberration in our nation's history, an accidental interloper whose removal - by impeachment or electoral defeat - will allow a return to normalcy? Or is he a wake-up call, one that demands a fundamental reworking of U.S. national-security policy? Opposing Trump, however, is cheap grace. The real question is what our foreign-policy establishment will learn from his rise.

Trump Appeases Putin In Helsinki

Trump caved spectacularly to Putin. Here’s what might happen next. CNN: “For as long as history remembers Donald Trump, it will be a day that will live in infamy. The President’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday is already one of the most notorious moments in the tortured relations between Washington and Moscow. Trump’s humiliation is taking its place alongside John Kennedy’s bruising at the hands of Nikita Khrushchev, and George W. Bush staring into Putin’s eyes and getting a sense of his soul. Like those moments in US-Russia summit lore, the events that unfolded Monday are likely to have significant and unpredictable political and geopolitical reverberations in the United States and around the world.
Trump’s favoring of Putin’s denial of election interference accusations leveled by the US intelligence community was not just the most abject display given by any President overseas, it may be the moment that finally validated claims that Trump prizes his own interests above those of America. The most obvious question — why did Trump cave so spectacularly to Putin — is likely to remain cloudy going forward, at least unless special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence the President is beholden to the Russian leader. But there are going to be profound consequences in Washington and beyond.”

Russian Agent Used NRA To Steer U.S. Policy

Mariia Butina, W=who sought ‘back channel’ meeting for Trump and Putin, is charged as Russian agent. NYT: “A Russian woman who tried to broker a secret meeting between Donald J. Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign was charged Monday and accused of working with Americans to carry out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics. At the behest of a senior Russian government official, the woman, Mariia Butina, made connections through the National Rifle Association, religious organizations and the National Prayer Breakfast to try to steer the Republican Party toward more pro-Russia policies, court records show. Privately comparing herself to a Soviet Cold War propagandist, she worked to infiltrate American organizations and establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians. ‘These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation,’ an F.B.I. agent wrote in court documents.”

Consequences of Trump-Putin Bromance

Trump and Putin: what we know is damning. Vox: “in Helsinki, the president of the United States held a friendly meeting with the Russian leader who sabotaged an American election on his behalf, and who has been rewarded by seeing American foreign policy pivot in a pro-Russian direction. None of this is in doubt. Standing next to Putin, Trump turned on America’s intelligence services, and again mused about how much better it might have been if Russia had cracked Clinton’s server and gotten her documents. ‘What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails?’ Trump demanded. ‘33,000 emails gone — just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily.’ The Trump campaign coordinated — privately or publicly or both — with Russia to steal documents from Democrats and win the election. Yet Congressional Republicans know their future is tied to Trump’s survival. Anything that weakens his administration weakens their 2018 reelection prospects, their ability to fill judgeships, their ability to pass tax cuts. Their political lives depend on Trump’s political strength. Trump’s actual response to Russia’s intervention on his behalf has been gratitude and solicitousness — what other response is there to a world power doing exactly what you asked of them in a time of political need?”

Sinclair Media Merger Skids

How Sinclair lost Trump’s FCC. Politico: “Sinclair Broadcast Group had everything going for it when it announced its $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media in May 2017: close ties to the Trump administration, and a friendly Federal Communications Commission chairman who cleared a path for regulators to approve the mega-deal. Sinclair, known for its “must-run” pro-Trump programming, was already the country’s biggest television broadcaster. The deal would make it even bigger, allowing it to reach nearly three-quarters of U.S. households — further positioning it to take on Fox in the battle for conservative eyeballs. But 14 months later, Sinclair’s deal is headed toward an almost-certain defeat, with that same FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, sending the merger on Monday into an administrative proceeding that is tantamount to a death sentence. The story of how Sinclair’s deal ran into trouble, despite its considerable sway in Republican-led Washington, is a tale of stunning hubris, according to officials inside and outside the FCC who watched the drama unfold.”

Judge Halts Deportation Of Separated Families

Judge temporarily halts deportations of parents separated from children. USA Today: “U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said Monday he’s become “exasperated” by the Trump administration’s slow work to reunify more than 2,600 children separated from their parents, and he ordered the government to halt all deportations of parents for at least a week. Sabraw scolded the Department of Health and Human Services for taking so long to reunite children in its care with their parents held in separate government facilities. The judge responded to a court filing by Chris Meekins, a senior HHS official who wrote that the judge’s order requiring accelerated reunifications was leading to ‘increased risks to child welfare.’ Sabraw tore into Meekins during a court hearing in San Diego on Monday, saying his claims were ‘deeply troubling’ and ‘completely unhelpful’ to what had been a mutual spirit of good faith between the two sides. The judge said Meekins’ filing appeared to represent an effort to deflect blame for any damage caused to children as a result of the government’s family separation policy. Sabraw made clear Monday that HHS is a defendant in the case, and the judge ordered the agency to look out for the welfare of children by reuniting them with their parents. ‘It is failing in this context,’ he said.”

More from OurFuture.org:

Treasonous! Impeach! Time’s Up! Miles Mogulescu: “In Helsinki, Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses while standing on the stage next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in front of television cameras broadcasting to hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Imagine if – after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – President Roosevelt gave a press conference, stating that he had just spoken to Japan’s Emperor, who assured him ‘it’s not Japan. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be… Emperor Hirohito was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.’ It’s time for every patriotic American citizen of every political party or ideology to do everything in h/er power to demand that the House impeach, and the Senate convict, Donald Trump and remove him from office. Time’s Up!”